Courage – what was the reason for not including courage as one of the life principles in my recent ebook? That’s what some of you asked. It’s an excellent question, and it deserves a thoughtful answer.
How is courage defined?
Courage is knowing that something is challenging, risky and dangerous – and to do it anyway. Courage doesn’t mean to suppress fear, it rather means to work with fear, to face it. Osho defined courage in an excellent way: “…basically, courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar, the comfortable for the uncomfortable, arduous pilgrimage to some unknown destination.”
The origin of the word “courage” is very interesting. According to Oxford Dictionaries, “courage” comes from Middle English, “denoting the heart, as the seat of feelings,” from the old French word “corage” and/or the Anglo-French word “curage”, as Merriam-Webster says. Both dictionaries agree on one core element: The word “courage” goes back to the Latin word “cor,” which means heart. Analyzing the German translation of “courage,” which is “Mut,” adds another perspective. “Duden,” says that the term goes back to the middle German word “muot,” which is closely connected to passion. So, the connection to the heart and to passion leads us in the same direction.
“The way of the heart is the way of courage.”
That brings us closer to the real meaning of courage and why it is the foundation of the life principles. Facing potential risks and doing it anyway, facing potential dangers and doing it anyway, facing potential disadvantages, but also facing better future states, great achievements – all that requires a few essentials:
Hoping for a better future state and confidence that in spite of all fears and risks, the desired future state can be achieved. Hope and confidence includes that the risks and dangers along the way can be mastered successfully. That’s about trust – trust in oneself and trust in the universe. Underneath of that, courage requires passion. Passion for what you do, for what you stand for, passion for your values and beliefs, passion for your way, your journey. All these driving forces – hope, confidence, trust and passion – don’t come from the mind; they come from the heart.
The mind captures all you know; it captures the past, all the well known things. Additionally the mind is a control freak, always suggesting playing it safe. The heart is totally different. Even if the mind says, “no,” the heart will whisper “give it a try”. The heart means hope; the heart means future. The heart guides us to meaning, to our role in this life, and the heart guides us to love, our intrinsic quality, it guides us to discover love as a state of being. Osho captures it perfectly when he says “The heart is always ready to take the risk, the heart is a gambler. The mind is a businessman. The head always calculates; it is cunning.”
Courage and the Life Principles
If we look at the seven Life Principles, there are a few things to consider: First, they should be perceived as a pyramid, and each principle builds on the next one. Second, they are all connected to each other. Third, these principles need a foundation, and this foundation is mostly about courage – and self-leadership. Fourth, courage as a foundational virtue is connected to each of these principles in a different way. Overall, it takes courage to walk your talk, to live by those principles. Those represent a level of ambition, and we all know that we don’t achieve our own level of ambition every day, but only by having defined this level of ambition for ourselves, we can become better every day.
It takes courage to change own behaviors. It takes courage to take full responsibility for all own actions, reactions, behaviors, emotions and thoughts. It takes courage because at the end of the day, there is nobody else to blame. Taking full responsibility for the own life is a courageous decision, it brings you always back to yourself.
A play means that we don’t know the result beforehand, which is why we can lose, or we can win. Even if we lose, we may consider it as an opportunity to grow. And that’s exactly what takes courage. Growing can be painful, getting rid of other people’s or society’s belief systems is not an easy thing to do. It’s not an easy way, but a worthwhile journey.
That’s based on the first two principles. Being aware that our perception of situations is our choice that current situations are the consequences of past decisions, that requires courage. Making own choices in a conscious way to shape our future, to grow along our journeys – that requires courage. At the end of the day, there is nobody else to blame, it always comes back to ourselves, to our choices.
Getting into your energy requires different steps than the usually promoted ways. It has nothing to do with energy drinks or stuff like that. No, if you look at the steps I mentioned here [Link], this is a journey that requires you to make conscious choices and changes.
Then, energy and focus create movement. Make sure that your energies and your focus are shaped according to your vision. Your vision has to require courage to get there (if not, the vision is too small), and you won’t oversee the entire journey, only the first steps. Follow your heart, be courageous and go in spite of all fears.
Creativity is the principle which I already connected to courage [Link], regarding creative confidence, which is basically the confidence and the courage to follow your heart. Creativity jumps into the unknown, connects things that weren’t connected before, and it creates new things that didn’t exist before. And creativity looks for new ways to solve problems and to master challenges. Creativity is not playing it safe. That’s why creativity and courage are so closely connected.
It takes the highest level of courage to liberate yourself from common misconceptions about love [Link], because it’s against the crowd. It is different from what people you are closely connected to may expect from you. And it requires courage to live by your own beliefs and values about love. It requires courage to grow into love as a state of being. It takes courage to accept the fact that love happens, that it’s nothing you can “do”. Go for it.
The more conscious you become, the crazier the world around you will look like. The more conscious you become, the more different your actions and your choices will be. Such a process on consciousness takes a lot of courage. Your journey, your values and beliefs and how you live by them will be very different from the crowd. Go for it, it’s your journey of growth.